Mumbai local trains are really crowded except for unearthly hours. And it suits us as we start off on treks during such hours. Our group wanted to introduce their kids into trekking. Something that we discovered at a much later age.Consequently, for Kondana, we were travelling with three kids of 4 years age and one kid of 10. We decided to travel at earthly hours.
The night before we were to trek there were a whopping 23 confirmations and I was really worried how we would manage such a group with the kids and the rivulets we had to cross as part of the trek. But it was really raining heavily...pouring heavily in fact and there were many last minute drop outs. We were 8 adults and 4 kids finally.
So we took the 7 am train from CST for Karjat. The train started getting crowded at Dadar. One of our friends could not board the same bogie as we were travelling in. Few others were in the same bogie but it was so crowded that we were not able to locate each other. Finally the crowd eased at Ambarnath and we were able to wave hands and console ourselves that the group was in one place.
We reached Kondana at the Vanvihar at around 10 and had breakfast there. It was a great feast of Kanda poha and upma, freshly cooked and piping hot chai.
We started off with the kids in tow. It was raining very heavily and I was worried about the rivulets being difficult to cross as the currents were really strong. I nudged my friend Shyam and confirmed whether he had carried the rope. Yes he had. Thank God for that. I heaved a sigh of relief.
There were around 6 rivulets which we had to cross along the way. The road led to the beautiful Rajmachi but we had to take a diversion on the route to reach the exquisitely carved Kondana caves.
These are Buddhist caves many centuries old yet the carvings are quite intact. The beauty of the caves was accentuated by the waterfall which was like a natural curtain in the front end. It was sheer beauty. We took shelter in one of the caves and had some light snacks. We had ordered for lunch at Vanvihar.
The fall was so enticing that I went under it immediately and the waters falling from at least 4-5 storeys height was so refreshing and invigorating that I went under the fall at least 6-7 times.
What a feeling it was. Nature is so beautiful. It is life giving. Yet when its time, all life has to cease and make way for new life.
And all treks however beautiful they might be, have to end. The same happened with this one. We returned to Vanvihar, had our lunch and made our way back to Mumbai. This time we took a different decision. We bought a first class ticket. The kids had bonded well and also enjoyed the trek. We wanted them to enjoy the journey too.